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Psychological interventions
Treating seasonal affective disorder with cognitive behavioural therapy is comparable to light therapy
  1. Sherri Melrose
  1. Athabasca University, Athabasca, Alberta, Canada;

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ABSTRACT FROM: Rohan KJ, Mahon JN, Evans M, et al. Randomized trial of cognitive-behavioral therapy versus light therapy for seasonal affective disorder: acute outcomes. Am J Psychiatry 2015;172(9):862–9.

What is already known on this topic?

The overall lifetime prevalence of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) ranges as high as 9.7%.1 Light therapy, where bright artificial light is used to replace diminished sunlight, can be an effective non-drug treatment for SAD.2 However, alternative non-drug treatment approaches are also needed. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an established and effective treatment for depressive disorders.3 Limited research examining CBT adapted specifically for SAD (CBT-SAD) is available.

Methods of the study

This paper reports initial findings from a large 5-year randomised clinical trial funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and conducted in Burlington, Vermont. In 2006, over a 6-week period during the winter solstice, 177 adults with a current episode of depression that was recurrent with a seasonal pattern were treated with either two weekly sessions of 90 min CBT-SAD therapy (N=88), or daily 30 min …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.